There’s been growing concern this year about glitter and its effect on the environment. Is it time phase out the sparkly microplastic?
Following on from carrier bags, water bottles, straw and microbeads, glitter has recently started drawing the attention of those concerned about plastic waste and pollution.
The shiny specks that adorn Christmas decorations, children’s products and beauty and fashion items are made of tiny shards of plastic, which, when discarded, can end up in rivers and the sea – contaminating the water and poisoning sea life.
In January, the government banned the use of microbeads in cosmetics – tiny plastic particles in a variety of beauty products – but the sale of glitter by itself and its use in a variety of non-cosmetics products seemingly slipped through the net.
However, some are already responding to the concerns over glitter.
By 2020 they will have found new ways to add sparkle to items such as greeting cards & wrapping paper that don’t have environmental impact that glitter does! https://t.co/ujR1JeowIY pic.twitter.com/ZVtCOGkNqf
— Beat the Microbead (@BeatTheBead) December 18, 2018
Just before Christmas, Waitrose announced it would be removing glitter from its own product lines by 2020.
In August, more than 60 music festivals announced they were banning glitter (along with all other single-use plastic) from their sites in three years time.
And last year a chain of nurseries announced they would be banning the use of glitter as an art material.
According to Greenpeace, 12.7 million tonnes of plastic are being dumped in the world’s oceans every year.
The UN estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of waste plastic per square mile of sea – and that the material is now part of the food chain in our oceans.
It seems whatever way you look at it, plastic waste is ending up in our oceans, in marine life and, ultimately, inside of us (if we eat fish).
Although banning glitter might seem like a rather small step – or even a kill-joy sort of thing to do – it could be a step in the right direction.
There are already plastic-free alternatives to glitter made from cellulose, so it’s not even a very hard transition to make for those who want to keep some sparkle in their life.
Every small victory against plastic pollution, such as microbeads, raises public awareness and empowers people to demand further action – and encourages manufacturers and retailers to develop alternatives.
I’m all in favour of outlawing plastic glitter – there are alternatives available, so it wouldn’t even be disruptive to consumers who want to continue wearing it – but what do you think?
Is too little too late in taking action on plastic pollution? Or perhaps you think consumers should be left to decide on plastic at the checkout, rather than the government banning it outright?